The Street of Seven Stars HTML version
The affairs of young Stewart and Marie Jedlicka were not moving smoothly. Having
rented their apartment to the Boyers, and through Marie's frugality and the extra month's
wages at Christmas, which was Marie's annual perquisite, being temporarily in funds the
sky seemed clear enough, and Walter Stewart started on his holiday with a comfortable
sense of financial security.
Mrs. Boyer, shown over the flat by Stewart during Marie's temporary exile in the
apartment across the hall, was captivated by the comfort of the little suite and by its
order. Her housewifely mind, restless with long inactivity in a pension, seized on the
bright pans of Marie's kitchen and the promise of the brick-and-sheetiron stove. She
disapproved of Stewart, having heard strange stories of him, but there was nothing
bacchanal or suspicious about this orderly establishment. Mrs. Boyer was a placid,
motherly looking woman, torn from her church and her card club, her grown children, her
household gods of thirty years' accumulation, that "Frank" might catch up with his
She had explained it rather tremulously at home.
"Father wants to go," she said. "You children are big enough now to be left. He's always
wanted to do it, but we couldn't go while you were little."
"But, mother!" expostulated the oldest girl. "When you are so afraid of the ocean! And a
"What is to be will be," she had replied. "If I'm going to be drowned I'll be drowned,
whether it's in the sea or in a bathtub. And I'll not let father go alone."
Fatalism being their mother's last argument and always final, the children gave up. They
let her go. More, they prepared for her so elaborate a wardrobe that the poor soul had had
no excuse to purchase anything abroad. She had gone through Paris looking straight
ahead lest her eyes lead her into the temptation of the shops. In Vienna she wore her
home-town outfit with determination, vaguely conscious that the women about her had
more style, were different. She priced unsuitable garments wistfully, and went home to
her trunks full of best materials that would never wear out. The children, knowing her,
had bought the best.
To this couple, then, Stewart had rented his apartment. It is hard to say by what
psychology he found their respectability so satisfactory. It was as though his own status
gained by it. He had much the same feeling about the order and decency with which
Marie managed the apartment, as if irregularity were thus regularized.
Marie had met him once for a walk along the Graben. She had worn an experimental
touch of rouge under a veil, and fine lines were drawn under her blue eyes, darkening